Watch Seance on a Wet Afternoon
- 1 hr 55 min
Seance on a Wet Afternoon is a 1964 British film directed by Bryan Forbes, based on the novel of the same name by Mark McShane. The film stars Kim Stanley, Richard Attenborough, and Margaret Lacey. The movie is a psychological thriller that revolves around a spiritualist medium, Myra Savage, and her husband, Billy Savage. The storyline of the movie unfolds with a unique focus on Myra, a struggling medium who has been conducting seances with her husband in order to make a living. Myra feels incomplete, and she longs for recognition as the ultimate spiritualist medium. She yearns to deliver insightful messages from the other side, but she never receives any messages. Frustrated with her lack of success and growing old, she concocts a plan to fake a kidnapping of a wealthy daughter, using her gift to help the girl's mother find her, which will hopefully bring her fame and fortune.
Myra convinces Billy to kidnap the daughter of a wealthy couple and hold her until the ransom is paid. After the kidnapping, Myra sets up a seance in her room, inviting the girlâs mother over, telling her she can outmaneuver and locate her daughter with her spiritualist abilities. The couple is initially hesitant about Myra's abilities, but as the seance progresses, Myra delivers a message to the girl's mother that huge amounts of money will ensure the safe return of the kidnapped daughter. As a result, the couple is willing to offer a substantial amount of money to secure their daughter's safe return.
The seance becomes the central focus of the movie, and Myra's spirit possession derives the suspense and intrigue of the story. As the seance progresses, Myra's behavior becomes increasingly unhinged, leaving the young couple unsure if their daughter will ever be returned to them. Alternating between the mediumsâ bleak insights and the kidnapping, the story moves towards an ending where everything gets resolved, one way or another.
One of the most exquisite aspects of the movie is its ability to balance the suspense of the kidnapping with the emotional trauma that both characters experience. Stanley, who plays Myra, perfectly executes the part of an unhappy woman who wants to find fulfillment in her career but ends up taking drastic measures that lead to a sequence of catastrophes. Her performance has been hailed as one of the greatest in British cinema history, and rightfully so. She brings a depth to the character that makes her vulnerable, pitiable, and terrifying all at once.
Attenborough's character, Billy, is equally as complex. He plays the role of a gentle and loving husband who is willing to carry out Myra's macabre plans due to his love for her. Mr. Attenboroughâs performance makes one empathize with his character even as he watches in growing horror at the result of the decision to go along with the plan.
The movie's plot perhaps leaves something to be desired, as it is held back by a rather unremarkable plot. However, its part of the appeal is the simple and traditional themes that the plot covers, based on a theory of people in desperate situations often making questionable, sometimes disastrous decisions. Some of the dialogue might seem dated, but it compensates with the aura of the 1960s, with its murky atmosphere and the accentuation of the psychological scenes.
The atmospheric and melancholic music, courtesy of John Barry - whose name has been synonymous with Bond movies - adds an eerie and somber touch to the storyline, sometimes so much that it feels like one is listening to horror music. The film's cinematography is mesmerizing, and it captures the essence of a London setting perfectly. The rain-soaked setting of the movie adds to the bleak mood of the story since water is often used in movies to symbolize sadness or desperation.
An exciting aspect of the movie is how it associates the themes of the occult with the extra-sensory perception with the notion of traditional fraud. It interrogates the nature of belief and curiosity, and how desperation can drive one to cross the lines of morality. Plus, the ending is a surprise to be unveiled and brings everything to a satisfying conclusion.
In conclusion, Seance on a Wet Afternoon is a top-quality psychological thriller that is a must-watch for fans of classic movies of the genre. It boasts of the stellar performances of its lead actors, who breathe life into their characters, some of the most memorably psychotic in British cinema. The movie is elevated by its stunning score, cinematography, and unusual themes, which pack an emotional punch to the story. It leaves the audience questioning their motives and understanding of human nature.
Seance on a Wet Afternoon is a 1964 crime movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 55 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.6.